DHS Awards AMETEK Contract for New Portal Monitor

Detection system will be used to identify illicit nuclear materials in transit

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- The ORTEC business unit of AMETEK Advanced Measurement Technology has been awarded a first stage contract by the U.S. Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) to develop an Advanced Spectroscopic Portal Monitoring System for the interdiction of illicit nuclear materials.

The contract was awarded following a competitive bidding process under HSARPA's Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 04-02: Detection Systems for Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures.

The new portal monitor will be based on technology recently developed for the highly successful ORTEC Detective and Detective-EX hand-held radioisotope identifiers (HHRIDs). These unique devices incorporate ORTEC high-resolution, high-purity germanium detectors, cooled by miniature Stirling cycle coolers, and employ technology developed at the US DOE Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These result in enhanced sensitivity and selectivity that represent a substantial advance in system performance and a 20-fold improvement in the device's ability to discriminate between "innocent" and suspicious radioactive material.

ORTEC physicists and engineers plan to scale up the technology into a system capable of rapidly processing pedestrians, vehicles and freight containers. Among the stated goals for the system in the BAA is a "significant reduction of nuisance alarm rates relative to current systems." Recent experience has shown that innocent alarms in cargo freight are largely due to natural radiation sources. The ORTEC technology will greatly improve the ability for authorities to resolve such situations without interfering with the normal flow of commerce at airports, border crossings, cargo ship docks, transportation terminals, and other points of interest to the Department of Homeland Security.

ORTEC has more than 40 years of experience in the design and manufacture of highly sensitive radiation detectors used by government and industrial laboratories, nuclear facilities and medical research and in nuclear safeguards.